Agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) today announced a move toward traceable, responsibly-sourced palm oil. As forest advocates, we see it as a welcome step – and while there’s further to go, ADM has started moving in the right direction.
While ADM announced a plan to sell palm oil certified by the (relatively weak) RSPO standard, it also announced support for Wilmar International’s “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy. Wilmar’s policy is an industry-leading breakthrough that goes much further than RSPO, and ADM’s statement sends a clear message signaling a shift towards responsible sourcing.
ADM’s support of Wilmar’s policy makes sense – and not only because Wilmar is by far the largest palm oil trader in the world, controlling 45 percent of the global market. The two companies are closely related: ADM owns 16 percent of Wilmar and serves on its board. And U.S. trade data shows that ADM sources much of its palm oil supply from Wilmar.
Today’s announcement is one more indication that we are experiencing a transformation in global agriculture. More and more, forest protection is a precondition for access to markets, in the U.S. and Europe, and around the world. Traders and suppliers who act early – like Wilmar – are defining the path forward, and companies that don’t acknowledge the new reality risk being left behind.
Going forward, ADM should move to formally adopt a commitment to not buy and sell palm oil grown by cutting down rainforests or digging up carbon-rich peatlands. It should show zero tolerance for community exploitation in its supply chain. And it should clarify whether its new support for responsible sourcing goes beyond palm oil, to include the enormous breadth of commodities the agriculture giant trades worldwide.